L.A. Noire is a fascinating look into both the world of detective work and 1940s America.  It's an interesting blend between classic noir films and Rockstar's penchant for gritty, suspenseful period games.  Like its predecessors Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire offers a deep experience with memorable characters, plotline, and gameplay that make for a satisfying experience unlike anything I've ever played.

The first thing players will notice is Team Bondi's facial motion capture technology, which comes into play several times during the course of L.A. Noire.  Each actor has been stunningly recreated in the game's engine, and several faces like Aaron Stanton and John Noble are recognizable and well-detailed.  The world of 1947 Los Angeles is breathtaking, with each location in the game looking like a picture in a history book.  The jazz music playing on the radios adds to the immersion, and not long after you'll be drawn into the setting and characters.

L.A. Noire stars Detective Cole Phelps, who enters the LAPD after a tour of duty in Okinawa during World War II.  Cole is an honest cop, trying to do the right thing in the midst of corruption running rampant throughout Los Angeles.  His experiences in WWII haunt him daily, which are doubled by the fact that he was rewarded for something he didn't feel deserved commendation.  Many of the cases in L.A. Noire are based on the real-life Black Dahlia killings in 1947, and the final third of L.A. Noire expands on the corruption in the LAPD, working its way up into the higher forms of government.

The average mission in L.A. Noire has you and your partner arrive at the crime scene, gather clues, and interrogate witnesses.  Locations range from houses and bars to film studios and even sets.  Every clue, location, and person of interest is stored in your notebook, which can be accessed at any time.  You won't want to leave any stone unturned, as an overlooked clue can make or break your case, opening new interrogation branches with every clue.  Interrogating witnesses is an interesting experience, as witnesses reactions to lines of questioning can be used to determine if they're lying or telling the truth, and thanks to Team Bondi's facial capture tech, each shifty eye and quiver of a lip is a breeze to spot.

During interrogations, you can believe what they say as truth, call their statements into doubt, or accuse them of lying, however, if you choose the latter you had better have evidence to back it up, or else the witness could end the conversation altogether.  The animation and visuals make the interrogations stunning, and each actor does an excellent job in their role.  However, your line of questioning doesn't impact the story very much; often you'll be able to get to the same ending regardless if you answered one or all questions right.

Breaking up the investigations are periods of action, which range from shootouts to blockbuster-like car chases.  Pursuit on foot is also plentiful, but can get repetitive at times, especially when the chases involve lots of ladders or pipes to climb.  Tailing suspects add depth to the gameplay as well, but following behind someone and trying not to be seen isn't as exciting or appealing as a fast car chase or tense standoff between a criminal and his hostage.

Rockstar has a knack for creating open worlds that feel as real as our own.  Much like GTA's Liberty City and Red Dead's Western setting, Los Angeles has its own vibe that is hard to ignore; driving from place to place is memorable and a treat.  Unlike the two examples mentioned above, though, the world isn't as sprawling or immersive.  You can roam the streets freely to pick up street crimes, hidden cars, or golden film reels, but other than that, the city feels hollow compared to the multitude of things to do in Liberty City.

L.A. Noire is an intriguing and memorable experience that captures the feeling and emotion of 1947 Los Angeles.  Its story of corruption and redemption in Cole Phelps is both reminiscent and original compared to last year's John Marston.  It's a period piece that thrives at what it sets out to accomplish; transport players to a world of vice and deliver a narrative worthy of everyone's attention.  Despite a few shortcomings, the remarkable story and breathtaking visuals seem to trump the lack of life in 1947 Los Angeles.


Final Score: 9.25/10